My husband taught me something about flowers recently. Geranium, he told me, is a fault in wine. We were discussing the floral scent and had agreed that we both liked it. It’s lovely — it’s sweet and punchy and smells like a sun-drenched field pierced with bright crimson petals. But it signifies an unwanted reaction during the winemaking process. In other words, when you get a taste of geranium, you know something didn’t work the way it was supposed to.
Perfectionism is a geranium. Its optics are gorgeous, illuminated by a halo of grit, strength, and flawlessness. But perfectionism can be a fault. It cheats us from the art that so many people would have created, and indeed could have created, but didn’t because it wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t so-called perfect. …
As one is wont to do this time of year, I’ve been reflecting on everything I accomplished, what I didn’t achieve but hoped to, and how I can do better next year.
Yes, 2020 was an absolute shitstorm. But — and I realize the privilege that comes with this statement —it was a good year for me. I didn’t lose anybody I love (though I did lose my job), my and my family’s wellbeing have not been put on the line, and I’ve had the most productive year since graduate school.
I won’t bore you with a comprehensive tally of my achievements, but I will give you some context as to what I mean when I say 2020 was a productive year for…
It was the winter of 1991. My aquamarine bib snow pants were strapped onto my shoulders and bunched over my boots, my coat barely zipped up over my sweater. I was Ralphie’s brother from A Christmas Story. The snow was piled up higher than my head, and in the backyard, I kept getting stuck as I tried to cross the boreal terrain. My nose was cold and I was too warm under my layered winter gear, but it was a delight to partake in this, Minnesota’s famous Halloween Blizzard. Everybody has a story about it.
Ask any ’80s kid and they’ll talk about it like it was the most magnificent event in which they’ve ever partaken. Ask someone from earlier generations and they’ll reminisce about having had to shovel their way out of their homes and unbury their cars, like three feet of snow is only a nuisance, not an enchanting occurrence. …
Anxiety is a snowflake. Everyone’s brand is different from everybody else’s, even if the side effects are, in many ways, the same. And right now, it’s snowing all over the world.
Some form of anxiety or another has been an intimate friend of mine for just over a decade. It’s not a relationship I covet, but it’s one I’ve come to terms with having, and this acceptance has helped me cope with my reality.
Unfortunately, I am not alone in the anxious camp. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that over 40 million adults in the U.S. …
I wrote a little story once.
I shared it with a couple of friends. They liked it.
I shared it with a couple more friends. They liked it, too.
I decided I liked my story enough to pursue publishing.
I submitted it to Chronicle Books. Unsurprisingly, they never got back to me.
I began to research indie publishing.
I decided that, though indie publishing is a lot of work and money, I liked my story enough to do it.
I signed on with Wise Ink Creative Publishing.
I worked with an editor on the manuscript.
I worked with an illustrator on the art. …
If you were to flip through any one of the hundreds of books on my shelf, you’d see that I destruct them. The more beat up they are, the more I loved them. I underline, star, write notes, and dog-ear lines in my books whenever they make me pause, which could be for any number of reasons. It could be that they’re skillfully done, they evoke an emotion that’s surprising to me, they paint an unusual picture, or simply that they are beautiful.
I flipped through the books I read this year and chose the 20 most beautiful sentences I had the pleasure of reading. Below you’ll find sentences — or in some cases a couple of them to provide context or complete a thought, and in the case of Elena Ferrante, the opening sentence of a book — that I deemed worthy of underlines, plus the reason why I underlined them. …
With one month left of the year, it’s easy to call it done and get ready to make 2021 a better year. But there’s still an entire month left. A month is plenty of time to turn things around and redeem 2020.
I have some ideas.
Christmas is looming and for many, it’s a hard season to endure. This year will probably be even tougher than normal, given that many of us won’t be spending it with our families. Since the holidays are going to look different this year, I think it’s a better year than ever to give. Give your money, and if you don’t have money, give your time. …
I keep hearing the same thing over and over right now: the poor children.
The poor children who don’t get to see their friends. Who don’t get to go to school. Who can’t play sports or go out to dinner or visit their grandparents.
I hear this often and I say it often because my heart breaks for children right now. This would be a hard time to grow up, particularly for those who don’t understand what’s going on, or for those who missed out on their graduations or proms. This sucks for them.
But right now I want to focus on the parents because this shit is hard. …
I am one of those people who posts pictures of the books I’m reading on my Instagram stories. I do this not to show off how many books I read, but because I like talking about books almost as much as I like reading them, and this opens up a space for the kind of dialogue I desperately crave. You’d be surprised how much of my meager following likes to engage with these posts.
One message I get over and over is, how do you find time to read so much? They especially want to know now that I have two children. It turns out a lot of people say they want to read more, but they just don’t have the time. …
I recently became a full-time stay-at-home mother of two thanks to a layoff. I don’t get a ton of free time, but when I do, I spend it trying to get some writing done.
At first, it seemed like every time I got to my computer to work, I spent the majority of my small break trying to decide which project to work on. Since I could never decide which was most important, I switched between all of them.
This is not productive. Multitasking like this is counterproductive and promotes stress and fatigue. According to Psychology Today:
“Multitasking creates an illusion of parallel activity, but actually it requires mental switching from one task to another. This drains the glucose fuel needed by the brain, making the brain less efficient and creating the feeling of being tired.” …